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Turning On Your AC for the First Time After Winter in Chicago


Air Conditioning

Close up of technician checking an air conditioning system, holding a thumbs up sign

Chicago winters can be brutal. Now that spring is in sight, you may eagerly anticipate turning on the air conditioner for the first time. But after being dormant for months, your AC unit may need a little attention before it’s ready for another hot, humid summer. Here’s how to prepare your cooling system before it gets too hot outside.

Inspect the Outdoor Unit

First things first — go outside and check the outdoor unit. Clear away any dead leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Then, check the coolant lines connected to your house. If the insulation encasing them is damaged or missing, call an HVAC technician for help replacing it.

Finally, if you covered the unit last fall, remove the cover now. Keep in mind that wrapping your AC unit isn’t necessary and can actually cause rust if the cover traps moisture against the metal. If you’re worried about snow and icicles falling inside, place a piece of plywood on top and weigh it down with a large rock or brick. This is the only protection the outdoor unit needs.

Change the Air Filter

Make a habit of changing the filter every one to three months or according to the manufacturer’s directions. The changing season is a great time to start fresh with a new air filter. This simple step maintains adequate airflow, reduces operating costs, prevents the HVAC system from overheating, and can even improve indoor air quality if you choose an efficient filter.

Check Your Air Vents

Walk around your Chicago home and look for supply registers in each room. Depending on your home’s configuration, you may have one central return vent or smaller vents scattered around the house. Either way, check that all your vents are unobstructed by furniture, curtains, or rugs.

You may assume you should close the supply registers in unused rooms to save energy. However, closing too many could throw off the supply/return air balance, causing undue strain on the system. As a general rule, unblock all return vents and keep at least 80% of supply vents open at all times.

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Do a Test Run

Now that you have adequately prepared your system, turn it on to ensure it operates correctly. It’s best to complete this test run in early spring. While the air conditioner is running, listen to the blower, pay attention to any odd smells, and check the airflow and temperature from each vent. If anything seems off, you have plenty of time to arrange a repair before you need to run the air conditioner every day.

Schedule a Maintenance Visit

HVAC professionals recommend maintaining your air conditioner once a year, even if it seems to be running normally. After all, a developing problem could be days away from revealing itself, but you won’t know it until your cooling system breaks down. A technician can spot small issues early and make any necessary adjustments to keep your system operating reliably all season long. Plus, investing in maintenance pays for itself by boosting efficiency, lowering repair costs, and adding years to the system’s life span.

Choose American Vintage Home for AC Services in Chicago

Is your house older than you are? No one services older homes better than American Vintage Home! Trust us to maintain your AC system, whether you have a central air conditioner, ductless mini-split, or high-velocity HVAC system designed specifically for older homes without ductwork. With decades of experience and a passion for servicing vintage homes in the Chicago North Shore area, we’re the perfect team to handle all your HVAC needs!

Call us at (847) 999-4595 or contact us online to schedule an AC tune-up or other cooling services before summer arrives.

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